Ehize Omoghibo goes from novice to force in no time for Evanston

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Evanston’s Ehize Omoghibo was unfamiliar with volleyball only a few years ago.

“I saw it in sixth grade but I didn’t really know what it was. I thought it was more of an advanced keep-the-balloon-off-the-ground game,” she said with a laugh. “I liked that game so I decided to do volleyball.”

Now a junior, Omoghibo is one of the top outside hitters in Chicagoland and a regular kill leader for the Wildkits. Just this summer, Omoghibo verbally committed to Central Florida, where she’s scheduled to play volleyball on a full-ride scholarship.

Though she played basketball and ran track before high school, she had never played volleyball. Omoghibo said she wanted the challenge of playing the sport so she tried out during her freshman year. Instantly, Evanston knew it had an athlete.

“She had a great build,” coach Pam MacPherson said. “We jump tested her and she had the highest touch in the entire program. Even as a freshman, she was jumping higher than any of our seniors.”

By her sophomore year, Omoghibo was on the varsity team. She plays the sport year-round, participating in Wildkits volleyball camps and playing for Aurora’s Sports Performance Volleyball club. She’ll even practice in the boys’ open gym sessions.

The transition hasn’t been easy, she said. Her passing is still developing — Omoghibo said that it is the toughest aspect of the sport — and she’s also working on shot selection, whether she should pound shots home or finesse the ball over the net. But, the switch to volleyball has gone smoothly enough.

“Her defense and athleticism make up for maybe some of her inexperience,” MacPherson said. “She can get to balls that other girls can’t get to.”

MacPherson said the Wildkits have slowed down the tempo to get high arcing sets for both Omoghibo and senior outside hitter Christine Covode, both lengthy hitters who can jump. The Wildkits haven’t fared well in tournaments but are 3-0 in the Central Suburban South as of Monday.

Omoghibo said she’s excited for the upcoming conference games. Her play will be a major factor in Evanston’s success, which is a bit of a anomaly given how new she is to the sport.

“It’s been amazing,” Omoghibo said of her progress. “I love coming back each year knowing that I got better. When I was younger I thought I was going to play basketball or something. I never thought I was going to play volleyball. It’s been really good.”

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